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Scientific prize winners announced

By Lin Shujuan in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-15 09:25

Five scientists were conferred the 2023 WLA Prize, an award initiated by the World Laureates Association, for their groundbreaking achievements in mathematics or life science, the WLA Prize Management Committee announced on Thursday in Shanghai.

Arkadi Nemirovski from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States, and Yurii Nesterov from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, won the WLA Prize in Computer Science or Mathematics "for their seminal work in convex optimization theory".

Daniela Rhodes from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Karolin Luger from the University of Colorado Boulder in the US, and Timothy J. Richmond from ETH Zurich, Switzerland, were recognized as the winners of the WLA Prize in Life Science or Medicine "for elucidating the structure of the nucleosome at the atomic level".

Wu Xiangdong, executive director of the WLA and chairman of the WLA Prize Management Committee, said the five laureates will come to Shanghai to attend the award ceremony on Nov 6. The ceremony, which coincides with the 6th WLA Forum, will be followed by a series of engaging sessions to celebrate the laureates' outstanding achievements, Wu added.

The WLA Prize, which aims to recognize and support eminent researchers and technologists worldwide for their contributions to science, was established at the 4th WLA forum in Shanghai in 2021.

Each year, the WLA Prize is awarded in two categories of computer science or mathematics, and life science or medicine, with the total award for each prize, which may be divided among up to four laureates, being 10 million yuan ($1.38 million).

Roger Kornberg, WLA chairman and a Nobel laureate in chemistry in 2006, said the prize will support original basic research and encourage scientists to strive to achieve more for the common good of mankind.

Michael I. Jordan, a US computer scientist and statistician, and German biochemist Dirk Goerlich won the inaugural WLA Prize last year.

According to Jordan, who also served as chair of the selection committee for this year's prize in computer science or mathematics, optimization theory is arguably the area of mathematics that has had the most significant impact outside of mathematics over the past three decades.

The theory has found major applications in fields such as control systems, economics, signal processing, machine learning, resource allocation, energy management, supply chain management and finance, Jordan said.

"Nemirovski and Nesterov's work has allowed optimization algorithms to be applied to the large-scale problems characteristic of modern applications," Jordan added.

Randy Schekman, chair of the Selection Committee of the 2023 WLA Prize in Life Science or Medicine, said the three winners of the category have jointly solved "one of the great mysteries of cellular organization".

They "have left an indelible mark on the history of our understanding of chromosome structure" through their over two-decade-long research, said Schekman, who is also a 2013 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine.

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